Just as salespeople don't like hearing no, most prospects don't like saying no, even when they want to. So they use ambiguous language, stall tactics and dodges in the hope that the salesperson will go away and they will be spared feeling like a bad guy.
While this dance of deception may sooth the feelings of both prospect and salesperson, it serves neither of their interests. Chasing dead opportunities and dodging persistent salespeople are not good uses of time and energy.
The alternative is learning to go for no, helping the prospect to close the file. At a minimum going for no saves your time and builds your confidence. At an optimum, it can rescue a lost sale by lowering the prospect's resistance enough so you can find out what is stopping the sale from moving forward.
When should you go for no? Here are some situations.
Go for no when your prospect
To hear what this sounds like, consider a prospect who continues to tell you that he is still considering your proposal. When you hear that, respond by saying something like, "Usually when someone is still pondering my proposal it is for one of two reasons: they have become really, really busy, or they have decided we are not a good fit. I'm wondering which may be the case here."
The prospect will often give the easy, but untruthful, answer that he has been busy. Empathize, then say, "Could I make a suggestion to bring closure on this. Let's agree to set up a time to meet to review my proposal one last time to see if it makes sense, or give me permission to close the file, at least temporarily. What would make most sense to you?"
If he hedges on meeting with you or tells you he is too busy, he is saying no without saying it. Don't buy it. Be politely persistent until he agrees to close the file, if only temporarily.
At this point you can either disengage, if you believe it is over, or ask the prospect to help you understand where you went wrong so you can do better next time. If he agrees and tells you, ask, "If I could fix this problem, would you want to open our file again?" You are back in the conversation.
Got a question or comment? Need help with going for the no? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? Read my article for some suggestions on how you can be successful this year.